MBEKI QUESTIONS HIV TESTING
By Mike Cohen
AP 24 April 2001
Cape Town -- President Thabo Mbeki on Tuesday
questioned the need for people to take HIV tests,
saying there was disagreement among scientists about what exactly was
Mbeki caused an international uproar more than a year ago when he
courted the view of some scientists who question the link between HIV
and AIDS and believe HIV testing should be stopped.
After his public image took a battering, Mbeki withdrew from the
debate, and his government said its AIDS policy was based on the
premise that HIV, or human immuno deficiency virus, did cause AIDS.
But in a rare live broadcast on the private television station e-TV,
Mbeki reignited the debate Tuesday, saying he would not take a public
HIV test as it would send a message that he supported a particular
"I go and do a test - I am confirming a particular paradigm,'' he
Mbeki also rejected growing calls for the government to provide
patients suffering from AIDS, or acquired immune deficiency syndrome,
with anti-retroviral drugs through the public health system, saying
they were not yet proven to be safe.
"I think it would be criminal if our government did not deal with
the toxicity of these drugs,'' he said. "Let's stop politicizing this
question, let's deal with the science of it.''
AIDS activist say Mbeki's often controversial views on AIDS have sown
confusion about how to deal with the epidemic in a nation where an
estimated 11 percent of the population, or some 4.9 million of 45
million, is HIV positive, one of the world's highest infection rates.